Youth Employment Safety Laws

Many laws have been written to help youth (under age 18) at work.  This is what employment laws do:

  • Keep kids in safe jobs;
  • Ensure kids are not overworked;
  • Prohibit discrimination;
  • Give decent pay.

This article does not cover the topics of taxes or work permits.

Some rules apply to all minors.  Other more restrictive rules deal with younger people.

Rules for Everyone Under 18

You are completely forbidden from working in certain jobs.  There are certain types of other dangerous jobs where you usually cannot work.  However, for these jobs there may be an exception that will allow you to work.

No one under the age of 18 can work at (or near) the following jobs:

  • Blast furnaces
  • Docks or wharves other than marinas where pleasure boats are sold or served
  • As a pilot, firemen, or engineers on any vessel or boat engaged in commerce
  • Railroads
  • Erection and repair of electrical wires
  • Distilleries where alcoholic beverages are manufactured, bottled, wrapped, or packed
  • The manufacturing of a hazardous substance (such as dangerous or toxic chemicals or compounds)
  • Cleaning, oiling, or wiping of machinery
  • Any occupation forbidden by any local, state or federal law
  • Any occupation which after investigation by the Commissioner is deemed injurious to the health and welfare of the minor.

Read the Law: MD Code Lab. & Emp. § 3-213

Time Restrictions

  • Teens under age 18 may not be employed or allowed to be employed for more than 5 consecutive hours without a nonworking period of at least one-half hour.
  • Usually, the total school and work hours of a teen under age 18 cannot be more than 12 hours.
  • A teen under age 18 must have at least 8 consecutive hours that are not school or work hours.

Read the Law: MD Code Lab. & Emp. § 3-203

Other Restrictions

Money Handling Restrictions - Teens under age 18 are not allowed to be employed to transport (carry to or from the business) money (in any amount) between 8:00 at night and 8:00 in the morning. In addition you cannot transport (carry to or from the business) more than $100 during the day (8:00am-8:00pm). These rules do not apply if:
  • you are the child of the owner or operator; or
  • the money is payment someone gave you when you delivered something or payment for a job you did.

Read the Law: MD Code Lab. & Emp. § 3-212


Fire & Rescue Volunteer Exception - You may work as an unpaid volunteer in a fire station or rescue squad if you are at least 16 years old and are taking (or have completed) a course about firefighting or rescue work.

Read the Law: MD Code Lab. & Emp. § 3-203

Entertainer Exception - If you get a special work permit, you can work at any age as a model, performer, or entertainer.  The application and permits are available only at the Baltimore Office of the Maryland Department of Labor.

Read the Law: MD Code Lab. & Emp. § 3-207

Age 14 or 15

In addition to the rules for all minors, if you are 14 or 15 years old you are not allowed to work at the following jobs:

  • Manufacturing, mechanical or processing occupations, including occupations in workrooms, workplaces or storage areas where goods are manufactured or processed.
  • Operation, cleaning or adjusting of any power-driven machinery other than office machines.
  • Occupations in, about or in connection with:
    • scaffolding    
    • brickyards
    • lumberyards
    • construction    
    • airports   
    • railroads
    • blast furnaces
    • alcohol distilleries
    • lye, acids, gases, dyes, paint     boats engaged in navigation or commerce    
    • occupations causing dust in injurious quantities
    • occupations involving setting up or repairing electrical wire
    • any occupation "deemed injurious by the Commissioner after investigation".

However, you can work in the office or as a salesperson for a company that does this type of work.

Read the Law: MD Code Lab. & Emp. § 3-213

Time restrictions

Teens under age 16 cannot work:

  • before 7:00 a.m.
  • from the day after Labor Day through the day before Memorial Day, after 8:00 p.m.;
  • from Memorial Day through Labor Day, after 9:00 p.m.; or
  • more than:
    • 4 hours on a day when school is in session;
    • 8 hours on a day when school is not in session;
    • 23 hours in a week when school is in session for 5 days; or
    • 40 hours in a week when school is not in session.

Read the Law: MD Code Lab. & Emp. § 3-211

Under Age 14

Maryland law says that children under age 14 are not allowed to be employed or to work.  There are, however, some jobs that are not considered "employment" if you work outside of school hours:

  • Farm work performed on a farm.
  • Domestic work performed in or about a home.
  • Working in a business owned or operated by your parent or guardian.
  • Working as an unpaid volunteer, in a charitable or non-profit organization, employed with the written consent of a parent or guardian.
  • Caddying on a golf course.
  • Teaching on an instructional sailboat.
  • Manufacturing evergreen wreaths in or near a home.
  • Delivering newspapers to the consumer.
  • Working as a counselor, assistant counselor, or instructor in a youth camp certified under the Maryland Youth Camp Act.

Read the Law: MD Code Lab. & Emp. § 3-203; MD Code Lab. & Emp. § 3-209



Edited by Kerstin M. Miller, Esq., Smith & Downey, P.A.

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